I was first introduced to GROW coaching during IB Workshop Leader training, and I've been looking for a way to bring it to my students. The particularly powerful aspect of GROW coaching is its emphasis on listening to others. As students of design, it is essential to listen carefully to users and clients in order to understand their needs--this is at the heart of the concept of empathy, which is the concept at the heart of design thinking.
GROW coaching has a variety of forms, but the purpose is the same: to set goals and solve problems that are in the way. For our purposes, we followed a questioning format designed to help users reflect upon the challenges they were facing in designing a wind turbine:
Goals: identifying the goals of what they were trying to achieve. What do you want to achieve?
What areas do you want to work on? What would it look like if it were perfect?
Reality: identifying and describing the reality of the situation; identifying the challenges. What is working well now? What is a challenge now? What do you need? What do you have that you’re not using?
Obstacles/ Options: Identifying the obstacles in the way and the possible options for action. What could you do to change the situation? Tell me what possibilities you see. Who might be able to help?
Way Forward: The next steps to be taken. What will your next steps be? What challenges could you encounter in taking these steps? What could I do to support you?
Our grade nines's were engaged in a week-long interdisciplinary unit inquiring into wind turbine design. The current grade tens did the same unit last year, and so were familiar with the project and its challenges. As experts who understood the scope of the project, having them act as GROW coaches had a number of benefits:
- focus on guiding the conversation and drawing out the user's perspective on the problem
- listening role puts the emphasis on the user to reflect and communicate
During this unit of inquiry, the older students visited a team and spent time going through the GROW coaching model with them, asking questions, and listening to their younger peers. The GROW coaching model helped the younger students reflect on their process; and it helped the older students practice listening to users and their needs.
I'd like to develop this more by making it a part of the need-finding that design students need do at the beginning of a design unit of inquiry.